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A Course On Professional Engineering Practice

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.8.1 - 1.8.5



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Walter C. Vodrazka

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3515


Walter C. Vodrazka University of Nevada, Las Vegas

INTRODUCTION A course entitled Professional Engineering Practice is available as an elective to engineering students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This paper describes the course and the methods used in coordinating and helping to teach the course. The course materials are entitled “Issues in Professional Practice” by Dr. Ronald Bucknam, a Civil Engineering Faculty member at the University of Washington.

The course derives from the early activities of the Associated Soil and Foundation Engineers (ASFE), now known as The Association of Engineering Firms Practicing in the Geosciences. Numerous claims were brought against soils and foundation engineers during the fifties and sixties. Liability insurance for these practitioners became quite expensive and largely unavailable by 1968. ASFE was formed in 1969 by several nationally known geotechnical fm. The fms worked with a consultant on liability loss prevention to identify problem areas and to develop solutions. The work of ASFE revealed that the problems of design professionals in Geotechnical Engineering at that time were not technical inadequacies but were centered on practice deficiencies including client relations, project and resource management, fmcial planning, marketing, and several other areas.

The programs developed by ASFE to overcome these deficiencies were prepared and presented by the Institute for Professional Practice (IPP). These programs proved very effective such that Geotechnical Engineering became the least liability prone design profession by 1980 and experienced among the lowest professional liability costs based on a 1987 survey. ASFE referred to the program as loss prevention and the “Enhancement of Professionalism.” The program addressed virtually all practice issues including checking technical work, improving client and project selection, scope of work development, personnel management, and dispute resolution. The program went through several modifications and name changes.

Currently, the program is offered by the Institute for Professional Practice (IPP) to all design professionals. program participants are expected to read the textbook, take several exams, perform some assignments, and otherwise participate in a two-and-one-halfday workshop. Course materials were made available to interested university faculty in the Spring of 1992. The Civil Engineering Department at UNLV acquired the course materials and the elective course was fust offered in the Fall semester of 1992 to 24 students. The course has been offered four times with a high enrollment of 43 students including civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering majors.

Vodrazka, W. C. (1996, June), A Course On Professional Engineering Practice Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5947

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